2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero | Long-Term Bike

MSRP: $16,499
Caretaker: Zimmerman
Measurements: 6 Ft./180 lbs./33-in. inseam
Odometer: 1907
Miles this cycle: 1607

I was pleasantly surprised to see I’d accumulated 1607 miles on the Vaquero in what little time I’d actually spent in the saddle. That says a lot about the bike, which to be honest, took me some time to warm to. Now I’m developing a fair amount of affection for this workhorse of a motorcycle that handles whatever I’ve thrown at it with an aplomb that belies my initial impression.

To date the only change I’ve made is the installation of a taller Kawasaki-supplied windshield, which significantly improved the comfort, and for my money, the looks of the thing. Where it had a somewhat sinister look to it on arrival, it now looks like what I’d expect a light touring bike to look like, and is much easier to ride for more than an hour at a time. Left to my own devices, it’s likely the only change I’d make to the stock bike, although if someone were to pony up a new seat (with a little less rearward cant), I’d be on it like a chicken on a June bug.

Speaking of bugs, the Vaquero has two that are bothering me. Foremost is the fuel mileage. According to the onboard info center, I’m averaging 35 miles to the gallon, even though I’m not twisting the Vaquero’s throttle particularly hard, and using overdrive whenever possible. Fortunately, because the tank holds slightly over 5 gallons, the bike’s range isn’t a real problem, but at twenty bucks or more a fill up, it does impact my pocket where it hurts.

The second issue is the XM radio. While sound quality is good, it seems to cut in and out every few feet. An impromptu side-by-side comparison with a buddy on another brand, tuned to the same station, revealed that the Kawasaki lost the signal about twice as often on rural roads as his bike. Whether this is a problem peculiar to my bike or the sound system Kawasaki uses I can’t yet tell you. I should point out that when I’m tuned to any other bandwidth or when the bike is stationary, the signal is fine, so perhaps it’s just an anomaly. I’d certainly welcome anyone’s input on the matter as I’m something of a Luddite when it comes to things like this.


Kawasaki 16 in. Windshield $84.95